In August 2012, a delegation from Dieppe, Canada, visited Dieppe, France, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid.
When the delegation from Dieppe headed to Dieppe, France, for the 70th anniversary of the Raid, they knew it was going to be memorable.
Members of the delegation attended a tribute to the Raid's aviators at the Saint-Aubin-le-Cauf Cemetery where two Canadians are buried. They also visited the Monument des Marins (marines' monument) and met with numerous veterans, prisoners of war and families of some of the soldiers who were involved in the Raid. To end the day, the Dieppe delegation participated in a very sombre and solemn ceremony at the Cimetière des Canadiens aux Vertus where most of the Canadian soldiers killed during the Raid are buried.
"We attended our first ceremony today and also remembered the contributions of two Canadian aviators who played a role during the Raid," said Mayor Yvon Lapierre. "We have been welcomed with open arms by the people of Dieppe. They have spent months preparing for this event and the city is draped with Canadian flags as a tribute to the important role Canadians have played in this region's history."
"People feel very strongly about attending these ceremonies. To this day, you can still see the pain in their faces when they think of what the soldiers went through on that tragic day," the mayor said. "For them and the families affected by the Raid, attending the annual ceremony remains part of the healing process."
Tomorrow marks the official commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. Mayor Lapierre and members of the delegation will participate in the official ceremony which will also be attended by Canada's Governor General, David Johnston.
An important historic event was remembered today in Dieppe, France. Ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid were held at various locations. As Canadian flags flew throughout the city, local delegates led by Mayor Yvon Lapierre, as well as Councillor Jody Dallaire and Councillor Paul Belliveau, gathered alongside thousands of people to remember the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in a time of war to defend peace, freedom, democracy and human rights for all.
During the first ceremony, which began at 9 a.m. at the Cimetière Canadien aux Vertus, Mayor Lapierre and several dignitaries laid wreaths to remember the 913 fallen and 1,300 injured Canadian soldiers. The ceremony was highlighted by Sister Agnès-Marie Valois who, during the Second World War in occupied France, cared for the wounded taken as prisoners of war. She worked tirelessly and, on several occasions, courageously confronted the enemy to ensure that the wounded received the medical attention they needed. She is fondly remembered by Canada's Dieppe veterans. Now 98, she spoke of some of the soldiers' last words and about the terrible ordeal the young soldiers had to endure.
Later in the day thousands of people gathered in silence under a hot sun at Canada Square and joined Governor General David Johnston, Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney, dignitaries, veterans and soldiers' families to pay tribute and honour the memory of those who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy. Mayor Lapierre once again laid a wreath on behalf of the city. "The City of Dieppe is honoured to be able to take part in this commemoration. Our soldiers fought valiantly for freedom. They stood in the face of death to fight for their belief in a better world - a free and democratic world," Mayor Lapierre said following the ceremony. "It is important that we never forget them and continue to pass along the story of these Canadian heroes to future generations."
"After all this time, the pain and sadness still remain, but yet there is also jubilation for the freedom our children can enjoy today."
Capt. Larry and Jeannine Comeau are once again taking part in the delegation along with eight cadets. They have been attending several functions during the 70th anniversary celebrations and feel that is important for their young cadets to experience what happened those many years ago. It teaches their young leaders to appreciate what others have sacrificed for future generations.
Veteran Michel Doiron is also taking part in the ceremonies. He and five other veterans and their families also feel the need to remember their fallen comrades. "This is my first visit to Dieppe, France," Doiron said. "For years, I have participated in our local ceremony, but to witness this in person is something special. I am very fortunate to be part of the delegation. I have been moved by what I have seen over the past few days. We have been welcomed by the citizens of Dieppe who have opened their hearts and their homes to us. "
The final ceremony of the day was held on the beaches of Puys, where hundreds of pigeons were released to remember the fallen.
The next few days will remain busy for the Dieppe delegation as they visit various sites throughout Normandy. "We want our group to go home with a greater understanding of what happened 70 years ago," said Mr. Lapierre. "Because of our name, we have a connection with Dieppe, France, and I feel that it is important to continue to build a solid partnership with our sister city. We must uncover and define opportunities to develop partnerships in different sectors such as economic development, culture and education. I look forward to our meeting later in the week with officials from our sister city of Dieppe and am confident that we will strengthen our relationship."
Today marked the last official ceremonies surrounding the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. Commemorations were held in three communities impacted by the events of that day...Pourville-sur-Mer, Varengeville-sur-Mer and Sainte-Marguerite-au-Mer.
Once again, hundreds of people lined up the towns' streets to witness the unveiling of monuments in some cases, but also to pay tribute to the fallen and the veterans. In each community, the mood was somber as they watched a series of buses carrying veterans, their families and dignitaries.